Maharashtra minister Atul Save has directed a probe to check if there was any irregularity in the controversial loan of Rs 116 crore by the Latur District Central Cooperative Bank (LDCCB) to Desh Agro Private Limited (DAPL), a company headed by Riteish Deshmukh and his wife Genelia Deshmukh. The couple got a Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) plot out of turn in their hometown Latur during the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in April 2021, and LDCCB gave them the loan in two installments in October 2021 and July 2022. It is alleged that the funding by the bank has been done without following the requisite norms.
Save’s directive to the additional chief secretary, cooperation department, mentions that Riteish’s elder brother Amit Deshmukh was a minister in the previous MVA government while his younger brother, Congress MLA Dhiraj Deshmukh was the chairman of LDCCB. The minister told a portal, “The allotment of the land and funding by the bank was because of his political connection. You are requested to probe the allotment and funding, and initiate necessary action. Land allotment is not related to our department. The deputy district registrar will probe the funding, whether adequate security against the loan was ensured and there was any illegality involved. We will take a call on the action to be taken once the report is submitted.”
State BJP leaders have also alleged that Riteish and Genelia’s company applied for a loan on October 4, 2021 with the Pandharpur Urban Cooperative Bank and a loan of Rs 4 crore was approved by the bank on October 27. Further, a loan was applied with the Latur District Central Cooperative Bank and a loan of Rs 61 crore was approved on October 27. It took a loan of another Rs 55 crore from the bank on July 25, 2022. Save further told a news agency, “Our (BJP's) Latur district president (Gurunath) Mage had written a letter (raising the issue). I don't know anything about the MIDC, but I have ordered an inquiry to check if there was any irregularity on the part of the banks.”
The directives for the probe came after BJP district president Gurunath Mage and deputy district president Pradip More wrote to the minister after receiving information under RTI. More said that the bank gave Rs 116 crore within five months of the application to a company with a share capital of only Rs 7.5 crore. He said, “We have now demanded the cancellation of the allotment and the dissolution of the bank’s board of directors.”
Furthermore, the land was allotted at a concessional rate of Rs 605 per square metre, adding up to an expense of Rs 15.29 crore for the company that proposed to build a solvent extraction plant. Riteish is the son of former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh , who represented Latur in the assembly. Riteish’s younger brother Dhiraj Deshmukh is also a legislator representing Lature rural constituency.